Thursday 3 April 2014

That debate

The Great British Snooze-off

I didn't watch The Great Debate.  As I understand it, it was on the BBC and I have long since refused to pay the TV tax.  My review of it would have read much like the first one. Who "won" the "debate" entirely depends on who had the largest self-selecting minority watching, and that in the main, the loser was the electorate. Since Clegg is the punchline of every political joke, and Farage being a cult leader whose every fart is worshipped by the tribe, it's fair to say that so far as the popular narrative goes, Farage claimed a scalp and stands victorious today.

But what good does that do?  Here we have two third-rate politicians bickering over a subject neither they nor we get a say in - and are unlikely to this side of 2020.

But there was an important debate on EU matters yesterday. It just wasn't on the Television. Further upstream from the entertainment industry, there was a more crucial debate.  The writing has been on the wall for the EU for a long time.  Our rulers know full well that without a seismic change in relations with the EU, they will one day lose their grip on power, so leaving the EU is a matter of when and not if.  Consequently, how we leave, and when, is the current preoccupation of the powerful think-tank fraternity, and they are talking as though the decision to leave were a foregone conclusion.  Who controls the message in that eventuality is paramount to the future of the country, and that is a fight we need to win.

That battle raged for some time in the comments of the Telegraph yesterday, with Mats Persson, director of Open Europe, seeking to distort and mislead that debate over the Norway Option. While the masses were distracted with bread and circuses, a fight was going on, with no Ukip dog in that fight. Richard North explains here. That was the debate to be watching yesterday.

But for those who watched the lightweight version, who now think Farage is a man who stands up for Brits and British jobs, we learn from Junius that "Members of the European Parliament environment committee have been voting on plans to charge US, Indian and Chinese airlines a levy for every flight to or from the EU. Up until now they've had an exemption from the Emissions Trading Scheme. But they knew retaliation was threatened. The US Congress has already passed a resolution condemning the scheme."
The Chinese are likely to respond most harshly to the levy. Already they have frozen orders for 27 Airbus A330 aircraft, and an order for 150 more was due to be confirmed at the end of the month. Four-thousand jobs rely directly on Airbus manufacture at Filton, and thousands more in sub-contractors across the south of England. These are high value engineering jobs, which rely on a healthy forward order book from around the world. When it came to a decision, many on the committee argued to end the exemption, to ensure a level playing field on environmental measures. But British Conservatives opposed the measure and had thought they had the edge. Then they realised UKIP deputy leader Paul Nuttall was not present, and that one vote decided it.
As one of those whose living depends on Airbus manufacturing here in Filton, I would like to thank the Cult of Farage on behalf of myself and my colleagues, who are so grateful to learn you have our best interests at heart.  But Ukip can be forgiven. Such issues are very difficult, and those meetings are often boring - and do not present the opportunity to give a tub-thumping pub speech.  And who needs that with a hangover?

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